Job growth in the United States almost stagnated in July, adding 32,000 jobs (in a nation with 132 million of them). On Friday the Labor Department reported July employment figures for each state, the first read on whether the Maryland, Virginia and D.C. job markets followed suit.

The good news: They didn't. The District added 2,400 jobs, Maryland added 11,800 and Virginia added 2,900. In percentage terms, those represent much stronger levels of job creation than the nation as a whole.

The bad news: The state job numbers have more statistical errors and random variation than the national data, so too much can't be read into them. It will take a few more months of revisions and additional numbers to know for sure whether the local job market is better or worse.

The unemployment rate presents more worrisome signs for the local economy, even as it comes with the same caveats.

Joblessness was a very high 7.8 percent in the District in July, up from 7.1 percent in June, though the D.C. number in particular bounces around quite a lot. The Maryland unemployment rate rose to 4.1 percent from 3.9 percent in June. And in Virginia, joblessness dipped slightly to 3.4 percent from 3.5 percent in June.

But just as the new payroll jobs don't mean the Washington area economy is in the clear, the higher jobless rates in Maryland and the District don't mean it's recession time again. But both bear watching in the months ahead to see which set of numbers more accurately capture what's happening with the local job market.

-- Neil Irwin